October 25, 2007

An intimate relationship with the internet.

A Zogby poll about Americans and the Internet:
The poll found that 24% of Americans said the Internet could serve as a replacement for a significant other....

... [B]ut most are not prepared to implant it into their brain, even if it was safe. Only 11% of respondents said they be willing to safely implant a device that enabled them to use their mind to access the Internet. Interestingly, men were much more willing than women. Seventeen percent of men said they were up for it while only 7% of women wanted to access the Internet using their mind.
"Interestingly"? More like predictably, isn't it? What would the world be like if we could see the internet, at will, in our heads? People can already think about anything they want — even while giving the appearance of relating to the outside environment. But they'd be able to speak about things as if from knowledge or memory when they were only reading from the internet. I think your real memory and conscious mind would deteriorate as you transferred your attention to the seemingly more reliable and capacious internet, and you would lose track of this deterioration and perhaps not care, as you gradually slid into robothood. Ah, I assume this has been written to death in science fiction books, but I haven't read them. Anyway, my advice is don't get the device and stay away from those who do.

As for the internet "as a replacement for a significant other" — how did people interpret the question? Substitute "reading" or "watching television" for the internet, and you can see that there's nothing abnormal there. If you didn't have an adult companion living with you, what would you do differently? You might say, I'd be fine. I see people when I'm out or at work, and I'd be fine by myself at home. I'd have plenty of time to read and write — or play games and look at pictures — without anyone physically present and needing my attention. Is there anything wrong with that?

9 comments:

Ron said...

Ah, but think of the excuses we could have! You could stay home and tell your boss you've be having Denial of Service attacks all morning! Why couldn't you finish that paper? Your spam filters were down! Some Russian hacker turned you into a spambot against your will, and you ran around telling your friends about Multi Level Marketing and how Romanians want to lengthen your penis! Or do 17% of men already talk like this?

Meade said...

"Or do 17% of men already talk like this?"

Interestingly, they predictably do.

But seriously (sort of)...

"If you didn't have an adult companion living with you, what would you do differently?"

You mean when the power goes out?
I guess I'd have to get a flashlight and start dating (with the backup plan of adopting a dog.)

Trouble is then, when the power returned, I'd be conflicted. And stuck with an obligation to a needy capricious creature for whom intimacy means little more than being fed, stroked, and pampered.

Hmm. Interestingly, I'd predictably go straight for the dog.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Better me in the vortex than the vortex in me.

nick danger said...

I think your real memory and conscious mind would deteriorate as you transferred your attention to the seemingly more reliable and capacious internet, and you would lose track of this deterioration and perhaps not care, as you gradually slid into robothood.

Is it an unstated assumption that robothood is undesirable?

bill said...

Ah, I assume this has been written to death in science fiction books, but I haven't read them.

You could take a look at Oath of Fealty (wiki) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. A 1982 novel, it's not so much science fiction as just a small projection of technological capabilities. Not a great book, but has some interesting concepts including how an arcology needs a nearby city to survive. A number of people have implants that connect them to a computer and how they're always pausing in the middle of a conversation now reminds me of talking to someone wearing a bluetooth phone. The book is probably most famous for the the phrase "think of it as evolution in action."

Come to think of it, with the eco-terrorists and societal conflicts, this could make an interesting movie with a few updates.

Trooper York said...

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
Mata ah-oo hima de
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
Himitsu wo shiri tai

You're wondering who I am-machine or mannequin
With parts made in Japan, I am the modren man

I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M.
So if you see me acting strangely, don't be surprised
I'm just a man who needed someone, and somewhere to hide
To keep me alive-just keep me alive
Somewhere to hide to keep me alive

I'm not a robot without emotions-I'm not what you see
I've come to help you with your problems, so we can be free
I'm not a hero, I'm not a saviour, forget what you know
I'm just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control
Beyond my control-we all need control
I need control-we all need control

I am the modren man, who hides behind a mask
So no one else can see my true identity
(Dennis DeYoung, Styx)

Revenant said...

I think your real memory and conscious mind would deteriorate as you transferred your attention to the seemingly more reliable and capacious internet, and you would lose track of this deterioration and perhaps not care, as you gradually slid into robothood.

There's no question that computer memory is more reliable than human memory. Human memory stinks. We routinely "remember" stuff that never happened and forget stuff that did. But I don't see the slide into "robothood". Is a person who uses a pocket calculator more robotlike than a person who adds numbers up in his own head? Of course not -- not unless "robotlike" is a synonym for "accurate".

We send our kids to school for twelve years, not counting college, kindergarten and preschool. Almost all of that twelve years consists of a bulk transfer of knowledge from adults to to children. They aren't doing research -- they're just being told how things work. A small portion of education consists of being taught HOW to think, but most of it is just a data transfer.

It would, in my opinion, clearly be better if we could directly integrate the human memory with the existing store of human knowledge. Education could focus on how to best use, access, and expand upon that store of knowledge.

Fred said...

Think about the possibilities... Men could tune out wives and girlfriends by checking scores on espn, add spice to a dying relationship, read the latest news while you sit on the can.. maybe even play some games while at some lame opera with the wife. :D

I am sure women could think of plenty ideas too, I'm surprised that only 7% want in.

The idea of being connected permanently reminds me of a Next Generation (Star Trek) episode where some virtual glasses are discovered and replicated, before you know it the entire crew is playing some highly addictive 3d game. The look on their face is great, as if they're being bombarded with orgasms and can't pull away from the wonderful feelings.

Then the sad truth is revealed, the enterprise was on the verge of being hijacked by some alien race and everyone was snapped back to reality and forced back to work.

:(
Then

Fred said...

About replacing relationships.. I can tell you without a doubt that if you become immersed in a fantasy world online (as discussed previously -- World of Warcraft) that the nature of your relationships with real people changes.

In some cases, online players can make those substitutions by offering you love, compassion, kindness, as well as hate, anger, fear, etc. that you normally get in your every day life. The Internet without the 3d fantasy, can be very similar. Even comment sections on blogs like Althouse can substitute for brain stimulation you'd typically receive elsewhere.

My experience the last few days, in fact, has made me wonder if it is wise to continue interacting with a community that can illicit anger, happiness and a host of other emotions through reading and participating.